Links To Posts From Year 1: Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language

staying in the target language tips

It’s been a year since Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language was created.

A compilation of links to many of the posts from YEAR 1 can be found organized by topic below in part one of this anniversary post.

Part 2, of this post, contains a statement on how and how not to read this blog.  Find a modified version of this post under a new page called “1st Time Visitor??”


1- Managing Student Behavior AND Staying In The Target Language

2- Helping Reluctant Learners

3- Practical Advice/Strategies For…:

…Teaching Grammar While Staying In The Target Language.

…Introducing New Vocabulary While Staying In The Target Language.

…Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible.

Giving Activity Directions While Staying In The Target Language.

4- Assessments

5- Comprehensible Input & Input Theory Made Practical

Todd (The Stick Figure) And A Series On “CI”

6- Why Teach In The Target Language?

Why I Switched (My Switching To “90+% TL Use” Story)


How To Read This Blog

This blog is meant to be PRACTICAL, PRACTICAL, PRACTICAL.

In 2012, when I wanted to use more of the target language with my students, I searched to find practical answers to tough questions like:

  • How do I effectively manage student behavior AND stay in the target language?
  • How am I supposed to introduce new vocabulary AND stay in the target language?
  • What do I do when students give up and say things like, “I don’t understand a word of what you’re saying!”
  • How do I give directions for activities AND stay in the target language?

I feel like I never got PRACTICAL answers.

People would try to give me answers, but the answers I got seemed nebulous.  It’s because of this that I try to be as practical as possible when I write for this blog.  I try to avoid speaking in generalities.  I try to avoid giving “teaching in the TL advice” without sharing exactly what I do to make “teaching in the TL” possible with my students.

I try to be as practical as possible so that my blog readers think, “Wow.  Finally.  Finally I’m getting some details.  Finally I’m getting to hear exactly how someone is doing this teaching-in-the-TL-thing with their students.”  “Ooooooh…I see.  Teaching in the target language IS possible and the practical examples/strategies shared on this blog give me ONE way for how this can be done.”

(Side Note: Remember, the ideas/examples/strategies/methods/videos that I share are meant to make this blog practical.  I DON’T share my ideas as a way of suggesting that these are the ONLY ways to teach in the target language.  As I wrote in one of my “Teaching Grammar” posts:

“Don’t feel limited to what is written (in these posts).  Let these simple ideas launch you into developing more creative, more thoughtful, and more effective ideas (that you can use in your own classroom).”

I liked what Sara-E. Cottrell (from Musicuentos.com) said on twitter the other day, “(The) Biggest advice I can give you & anyone exploring TCI: 1) know & be yourself 2) learn & love your students.”  What I got out of that tweet was, “Don’t limit yourself to what others do or have done.  Do what works for you and your students.  From the things that other people in your profession share, formulate your own ideas and strategies that work well in the distinct environment where you practice.”


I love to answer questions and hear your feedback.

Some of my favorite posts started with questions that blog readers have asked.  Don’t hesitate to contact me with questions about staying in the target language.

Share your target language teaching experiences!

Have the contents of this blog ever impacted your teaching or philosophy of teaching?  Have you developed effective strategies for staying in the target language with your students?  Leave comments and add to the conversation on twitter by using #TL90plus (for staying in the target language” comments) and/or #langchat (for general language teaching comments).


What Others Are Saying About “Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language”

Señor Howard

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com/blog – @HolaSrHoward

Caleb Howard – www.SoMuchHope.com@calhwrd

Todd & A Series On CI – (Part 3): Why Aren’t They Getting This? – Input: Multiple Forms & ICI

With students who are not used to being immersed in a L2 environment…:

…there are times that I sense the need to use MORE gestures and facial expressions and use FEWER L2 words, phrases and sentences.

When I’m starting to get too many looks (from students) like this…

confused

…it’s my cue to start doing more of the following:

Sometimes, instead of affirming students with L2 phrases like, “Nice Job,” “Great work,” and “You really do great in L2 class,” I will simply smile, clap and give an energetic thumbs up.

Sometimes, instead of saying the L2 phrase for, “Come here,” I will simply use a hand gesture to get the student to come.

Sometimes, instead of making a request in L2 like, “Would you please pass out the papers?” I will simply hold up the stack of papers and use hand gestures to show that I want the volunteer to give one sheet to each student.

Sometimes, instead of reprimanding Roger in the TL by saying, “Roger, make sure your eyes are on the screen!” I will simply snap my fingers while looking sternly at him and then point to the screen in order to redirect his off-task behavior.

Sometimes, if a student is brand new to a 90+% TL environment, it’s necessary (for a while) to use LESS L2 and MORE non-verbal methods of communication.

This strategy is one of the ways that I avoid students looking at me like this:

blank-stare

It’s a strategy that I use to avoid students blurting out comments like:

“I didn’t understand a word you just said!”

“Excuse me.  I don’t speak ______ (name of L2).”

“Huh!?  What!?  I don’t know what to do because I don’t speak your language!”

Strategies (like the ones above) really help!

Recently I asked my students to hold up 1 finger if they felt “always lost” in L2 class and to hold up 10 fingers if they felt “never lost” in L2 class.  Every single student held up either 8, 9 or 10 fingers!!!  Generally, almost all of my students know what’s expected of them and know exactly what to do.  These results are possible because I use strategies like the ones I will discuss in this blog post.


With that being said, there are occasional times when a student of mine will give me a blank stare when I least expect it.

Confused-student

Recently I was SURE a student would be able to respond when I said, “Stand up,” (in the target language) especially because I even used my hands to motion for him to stand.

I thought I was making it as simple as possible.  One short command.  One very obvious gesture.

However, he gave me a blank stare.  NO RESPONSE.

I thought to myself, “How much more obvious can I make it?”  “If this simple, obvious hand gesture doesn’t make the L2 input comprehensible, then I don’t know what will!”

A lot of times I get the blank stare especially when I have a new student that transfers into the district.  No matter what I gesture…no matter how obvious I make it, they just stare at me.  Their facial expressions say, “Who is this guy?  What is he doing?  What language is he speaking?  What in the world am I doing here?  I have no idea what’s going on?”

I’m making it as meaningful = as possible…but the student is completely lost.

Here’s another example:

This happens every week or two.  I’ll ask a student a question like, “What’s your name?” or, “What color is this?” (in the target language) and the student will not know what I’m asking or what the answer is.  In order to help him out, I tell him the answer.  I ask him to repeat the correct answer after me.

Simple enough, right?  However, the student gives me a blank stare.  NO RESPONSE.  He can’t even repeat the correct answer that I ask him to repeat.

I think to myself, “Hello!?!? – “Repeat” is a target language command that we use dozens of times every class!  How can you be giving me a blank stare for, ‘Repeat!?!'”

So I try the Two-Hand Method to get him to say the simple, one-word answer after me.

The Two-Hand Method fails and the student gives me a blank stare.  NO RESPONSE.

A lot of times, in scenarios like these, every other student in the class is thinking what I’m thinking, “Hello!?!  All you have to do is say the exact same word that Sr. Howard is saying.”  Occasionally a compassionate peer will address the confused student in English and tell him, “Just say what Sr. Howard is saying.”

What is happening in these situations?

Why do I get a blank stare / no response?

I’m using the most simple of gestures!  Why does the student look at me with a blank stare even though I’m doing everything I can to “make the input meaningful?”

The reason I’m surprised, in situations like these, is because there are a couple of things (regarding the nature of input) that I’m not keeping in mind.

More specifically, I’m not keeping in mind that…:

1- …an individual can receive multiple forms of input at one time…

and that…

2- …one form of input can affect a person’s ability or willingness to respond to another form of input.


As an example, consider Andrew (in the picture below):

boy playing video game 1

Andrew is playing his new video game.  He loves it!  Ever since he got it for his birthday, it’s all he wants to do whenever he has free time.  He hardly does anything else.  He loves the graphics.  He loves the adventure.  When he’s playing, he’s in his own “video-game-world.”

What do you think happens when Mom tries to call him to the dinner table?

“Honey…it’s time for dinner,” Mom says.

No response from Andrew.

What’s happening here?

Is Andrew ignoring his mom?  Did Andrew not hear his mom?  Did it register in his mind that he heard his mom said something, but his video game adventure kept him from really processing WHAT she said?

For the purposes of this discussion, the specific details of what Andrew experienced are irrelevant.  All we need to consider is that at the moment of Mom calling him to the dinner table…:

1) …Andrew is receiving not one form of input, but two (or more) forms of input.

AND

2) …one form of input is affecting Andrew’s willingness/ability to respond to the second form of input.

What are the specific and different forms of input that Andrew is receiving?

The first form of input is coming from his video game.  (Let’s call it Input #1.)  His video game might be flashing words on the screen. (i.e. You have 2 lives left!)  His video game might be producing L1 words and phrases. (i.e. You’re dead!  Game over.)  Even if his video game is not producing L1 words (or written phrases/sentences) there are still situations/scenarios that Andrew is interpreting. (i.e. The enemy has Andrew’s character cornered.  Andrew thinks, “Ahhh! What should I do now?!?”)

The second form of input is coming in the form of his mom’s voice. (Let’s call it Input #2.)  She’s in the kitchen, calling for him to come to the dinner table.

The input from the video game (Input #1) is so exciting to Andrew, so enthralling, that it’s limiting his capacity to pay attention to other forms of input that are being directed to him.  He’s either:

  • so engrossed in the video game that he doesn’t even process the input of his mom’s voice (i.e. unable to respond) or
  • he values his ‘video-game-playing time’ so much that he’s willing to disregard his mother’s wishes in order to continue playing. (i.e. unwilling to respond)

So WHAT does this have to do with L2 class?

What does Andrew (and his video game) have to do with my L2 student giving me a blank stare when I say, “Stand up,” and motion for him to stand?

Just like Andrew received multiple forms of input in the example above, my L2 student receives multiple forms of input when I say, “Stand up,” and motion for him to stand.

Input #1, for my L2 student, is my L2 command: “Stand up.”

Input #2 is my non-verbal hand gesture: I motion for him to stand.

(Important side note:  It’s VERY IMPORTANT to note that Input #1 is incomprehensible to my student.  This is important because incomprehensible input has the potential to do to my student what video games do to Andrew:

It affects his ability or willingness to respond to other input.)

Here’s what I mean:

At the moment that I gesture and give the L2 command for “stand up,” here’s what I’m thinking in my head:

“Student, I know you don’t understand the L2 word I’m using.  I know all of this L2 is brand new to you.  But don’t worry, I will make it easy for you.  First of all, “Stand up,” is such a short phrase.  It’s not like I’m asking you to follow multi-step directions.  It’s just one phrase.  Second of all, to help you find meaning (although I’m using incomprehensible L2), I will use a gesture.  It’s a simple gesture.  All I’m doing is motioning, with my hands, for you to stand.  That way, even though you don’t understand the L2 phrase I speak to you, you’ll be able to make sense of it because the hand gesture is so simple.”

Even though that’s MY experience…it’s NOT MY STUDENT’S experience.  Here’s what he’s thinking in that same moment:

“Huh!?!  I’m frozen.  I’m overwhelmed.  My anxiety level is high.  I have no idea what is happening.  All I heard was a jumble of sounds.  This is really uncomfortable for me.  I have no idea what that jumble of sounds means.  How am I supposed to know what to do right now!?  This is embarrassing.  Everyone is looking at me.  I hate this.  How am I supposed to respond if I don’t know what that jumble of sounds means!?!”

Behind the blank stare are feelings and thoughts like these.

The overwhelming nature of the incomprehensible input makes it so that it’s attention-consuming.  Just like Andrew wasn’t able to think about anything besides his video game, often a student (who isn’t used to being immersed in L2) will be unable to think about anything else when they hear incomprehensible input.

The L2 phrase, short as it may be, is nothing but an overwhelming jumble of sounds.  It’s incomprehensible, unsettling and so confusing.  Even though there is an accompanying, simple hand gesture, there’s nothing else on my student’s mind besides, “What the heck was that!?  I have no idea what Sr. Howard is trying to say.”

Just like Andrew wasn’t able to respond to his mom’s instruction (because his video game was too all-consuming), my L2 student isn’t able to be helped by my simple hand gesture because my incomprehensible L2 command is too all-consuming.


How does the “occasionally use MORE gestures and LESS L2” (as described at the beginning of this post) help overwhelmed students like this one?

The strategies listed at the beginning of this post can help.  These strategies train students to look for meaning in new places.  Students are used to relying on language to gather meaning in a situation.  However when they are introduced to an unfamiliar L2 environment, their ability to gather meaning from language is eliminated.  But there are other ways to find/gather meaning.  Students can find it in other forms of input like gestures, facial expressions, body language, etc.  However, as I mentioned above, they won’t have the capacity to notice or pay attention to these extra linguistic forms of input if they are too overwhelmed by your incomprehensible foreign language.  At the beginning of their L2 immersion journey, (while they are still afraid of hearing your “jumble of sounds”) make it easy for your students to notice those helpful extra linguistic cues by occasionally refraining from L2 use.

Once the students become more familiar with finding meaning through extra linguistic input, and once the students become less overwhelmed by the sound of unfamiliar L2, the teacher can start using the target language without getting looks like…

Confused-student

What else can we do to help overwhelmed students like these?

There are so many tips on this blog for helping students that are overwhelmed in an L2 immersion setting.  Check out some of the posts below for tips:


The THEORY behind the “occasionally use MORE gestures and LESS L2” practice.

Todd is a stick figure and he is helping us with our current blog series on input and comprehensible input.

Todd - Comprehensible Input

Check out the pictures (below) that help explain the theory behind this “occasionally use MORE gestures and LESS L2” practice.


Picture 1

input can be verbal input from person

Todd can receive verbal/linguistic input.


Picture 2

image

Todd can receive non-verbal/extra-linguistic input.


Picture 3

image

Todd can receive multiple forms of input at one time.

Sometimes Todd can successfully process (and appropriately respond) to simultaneous and multiple forms of input.


Picture 4

image

Sometimes Todd receives one form of input that affects his ability to respond to another form of input that he is receiving simultaneously.


Language Acquisition Theory Statement:

Since…

…it’s possible for a student, especially one who is at the beginning of their L2 acquisition journey, to be overwhelmed by a piece of incomprehensible input…

And since…

…it’s possible for incomprehensible input to be so overwhelming that it keeps the student from being able to pay attention to, and process, other forms of input (which a teacher introduces in an attempt to encourage L2 meaning)…

A teacher should…

…train a student (using some of the strategies listed in this post) to notice ways he/she can find meaning in an unfamiliar L2 immersion environment by using available non-verbal (extra linguistic) input.


The conversation is just beginning.

Over the next several weeks, the posts on Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language will delineate the massive implications that simple sketches (like the ones above) have on foreign language teaching and foreign language acquisition.

Todd will help me discuss and/or continue to discuss…:

  • …the nature of input and comprehensible input.
  • …different forms of input and comprehensible input.
  • …a qualitative analysis of the various forms of comprehensible input and their usefulness in facilitating foreign language acquisition.
  • …making input comprehensible.
  • …how making input comprehensible and meaningful (to foreign language students) can cause language acquisition “magic” to occur.
  • …obstacles to making input comprehensible in a classroom full of students.
  • …strategies for overcoming the making-input-comprehensible-obstacles that exist in a foreign language classroom.
  • …a comprehensive rubric for assessing the effectiveness of a foreign language teacher.

STAY TUNED!

 See what others are saying about Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language.

Señor Howard

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com/blog – @HolaSrHoward

Caleb Howard – www.SoMuchHope.com – @calhwrd

Your voice is valuable! Share your target language teaching experiences!

Leave comments below or add to the conversation on twitter by using #TL90plus (for staying in the target language” comments) and/or #langchat (for general language teaching comments).

Todd & A Series On CI (Part 2) – Why Do I “Use Fewer Words?” …Input Has Quantitative Qualities

“Use fewer words.”

“Train yourself and your class to feel comfortable with silence.”

“Generally, if something I’m about to say in the target language is not going to be PAIRED with another MEANINGFUL form of input, it’s not worth saying.”

“Try to reduce the amount of words for a direction you give.”

These are rules of thumb that I follow in my foreign language classroom.  I’m passionate about them.  I feel that they are extremely important.  I believe that they are a huge part of why my students are acquiring L2 and thriving in an L2 immersion environment.

Instead of saying a longer phrase like, “Boys and girls, please sit around the edge of the rug,” I say shorter/simpler phrases like, “Aiden…sit here.”  “Jessica…sit here.”  “Rebecca…sit here.”  “Roneem…sit here.” Etc.

Instead of saying a longer phrase like, “Roger pass out a sheet of paper to every student in the class,” I say shorter/simpler phrases like, “A paper for you…a paper for you…here’s a paper for you…a paper for you…and for you…here’s a paper for you.”  Etc.

Instead of saying a longer phrase like, “Today we are going to write down the numbers from 1 to 100,” I say shorter/simpler phrases like, “With a pencil (and I hold up a pencil) write here and here and here and here and here (and I point to each of the lines that they will have to write on.”

Instead of saying a longer phrase like, “It’s time to put away your notebooks,” I say shorter/simpler phrases like, “Goodbye notebooks.”


A STORY about “using fewer words” with my daughter.

10624591_955670187674_8684531864456166944_n-2

If you have followed this blog for a while, you’ve probably already heard this story of how I “use fewer words” with my infant/toddler daughters.

One day my daughter was crawling around on the floor while we were with our extended family in the living room.  She was at that age where she was just starting to be mobile and loved her independence and ability to explore new things.  During this same stage her mom and I had to keep our eyes glued on her because she didn’t know which of her exploration items were dangerous or not.  We loved letting her explore, but it was exhausting to constantly spend energy keeping her from exploring electrical sockets, stair cases and fragile decorations.
On this night I didn’t want to supervise my exploring daughter.  I wanted to stay in the living room talking with the other adults.  So I decided to try to tell my infant/crawler to stay in the living room and NOT CRAWL INTO THE KITCHEN.
I realized that she would’ve never understood my language if I said something like:
“Ava, there are some dangerous things in the kitchen.  Furthermore your father and mother are not in there to supervise you.  Therefore our desire is for you to stay in the living room with us.”
But she WOULD understand my language if I said/did something like this:
I took my daughter to the threshold between the kitchen and living room.  I knelt down at her level.  I pointed to the kitchen side of the threshold and (with serious looking eyes) said, “NO, NO, NO.”  I pointed to the living room side of the threshold and (with smiling looking eyes) said, “YES, YES, YES.”  I took the extra time to repeat these statements 3 or 4 times.  She was able to understand because I used fewer words and I made their meaning obvious.  If I would’ve used 4 sentences with complex ‘native speaker level words’ my daughter wouldn’t have even listened or looked at me.

Here’s my RATIONALE that explains why I have a “use fewer words” practice. 

Todd is a stick figure and he is helping me with my current blog series on input and comprehensible input.

Todd - Comprehensible Input

Check out the two pictures (below) that help explain the theory behind this “use fewer words” practice.


Picture 1:

input has quantitative properties

Todd can receive small amounts of input. (i.e. Todd has been sitting alone in his jail cell.  The guard slides his lunch plate in and says, “Lunch time,” and leaves.)


Picture 2:

there can be little input or lots of input

Todd can receive large amounts of input. (i.e. Todd is a graduate student and is taking notes during a two-hour academic lecture.)


Sr. Howard’s Explanation Statement #1: Input has quantitative qualities.

In less formal language,

  • “Input: there can be a lot of it or a little bit of it.”
  • “Input: you can measure how much of it a person is receiving at a given moment or during a certain period of time.”

Why does Explanation Statement #1 matter in a foreign language classroom?

Last summer I was replacing a garage roof with a bunch of friends.

EODC Home Renovation

While he was up on the roof, one of my friends realized that HE HAD LOST HIS WEDDING RING!  He was frantic!  He wasn’t sure if he lost it while he was shoveling off shingles.  He wasn’t sure if he lost it while he was walking on the grass and among the plants.  He wasn’t sure if he lost it while he was carrying arm-fulls of shingles to the dumpster.  He wasn’t even sure if he lost it in his car on the way over to the job site.

Right from the beginning of the search for his lost ring HE FELT HOPELESS.

There was soooo much to look through.  There were so many possibilities of where the ring could be.  Where should he look first?  Would it be in the weeds?  In the rafters?  Would it be in the dumpster with a ton of shingles?

needle in a hay stack

It’s possible for L2 students, who are searching to find meaning in a foreign language immersion environment, to feel the same way that my friend did when he was searching for his ring.

If a student, especially a novice L2 student, is presented with large quantities of unfamiliar L2 input, his search for meaning will feel hopeless.

Foreign language teachers will be doing their students a disservice if they think teaching in the target language means that they must string together long, complex L2 sentences.

When teachers use too much L2 it’s like they are asking their students to look for a lost ring inside a dumpster full of shingles.

Teachers should make an L2 student’s search for meaning easier by eliminating needless, non-essential, incomprehensible L2 words.

The smaller the quantity of unfamiliar input, the greater the chance is that the L2 student will find meaning in their foreign language immersion environment.

If your language student is Todd, then Todd will be more successful in the L2 immersion environment if his experience is like this:

input in a language other than your native language can be incomprehensible

…rather than like this:

 incomprehensible input


A quick word for curriculum writers…

Students who acquire L2 in an L2 immersion setting need lots of time and space.  They need to spend a lot of time with new material in order to become comfortable with it.  They need to have repeated and comprehensible encounters with the L2 input in order to acquire it.  Too much curriculum content doesn’t allow the time and space a student needs for L2 acquisition to occur.

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to re-write our district’s world language curriculum for the grades that I teach.  The “use fewer words” principle influenced what I wrote.

I reduced, reduced, reduced, reduced.

It’s good to keep in mind that one thing you can’t do when you teach in the target language is cover lots of material fast.


The conversation is just beginning.

Over the next several weeks, the posts on Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language will delineate the massive implications that simple sketches (like these) have on foreign language teaching and foreign language acquisition.

Todd will help me discuss and/or continue to discuss…:

  • …the nature of input and comprehensible input.
  • …different forms of input and comprehensible input.
  • …a qualitative analysis of the various forms of comprehensible input and their usefulness in facilitating foreign language acquisition.
  • …making input comprehensible.
  • …how making input comprehensible and meaningful (to foreign language students) can cause language acquisition “magic” to occur.
  • …obstacles to making input comprehensible in a classroom full of students.
  • …strategies for overcoming the making-input-comprehensible-obstacles that exist in a foreign language classroom.
  • …a comprehensive rubric for assessing the effectiveness of a foreign language teacher.

STAY TUNED!

 See what others are saying about Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language.

Señor Howard

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com/blog – @HolaSrHoward

Caleb Howard – www.SoMuchHope.com – @calhwrd

Your voice is valuable! Share your target language teaching experiences!

Leave comments below or add to the conversation on twitter by using #TL90plus (for staying in the target language” comments) and/or #langchat (for general language teaching comments).

Todd (The Stick Figure) & A Series On Comprehensible Input – Part 1

Over the last few months, in my spare time, I’ve been having fun thinking about things like input, comprehensible input and extralinguistic input.  Call me crazy (or a language acquisition nerd) but I’ve even gotten up in the middle of the night to write down thoughts I’ve had about it.

Disclaimer: I haven’t taken the time to do any research on what’s already been written about the topic.  So none of the stuff that I’ll be sharing in this series is researched-based or formal/academic writing.  I’m just having fun sharing my own reflections on the nature of input and how it’s affecting the way I teach my elementary-aged, novice, L2 students.

So here I go with Part 1:


Say, “Hello!” to Todd.

person


The words that Todd hears or reads…whatever symbols he sees…whatever gestures he interprets…can be called INPUT.

input

 


Todd can receive input from another person.

input to listener from person

 


Todd can receive input from a T.V. screen.

input can be received from television

 


Todd can receive input (in written form) from a book, magazine or from his iPhone.

input can be received in written form

 


Todd can receive input in the form of another person’s words.

input can be verbal input from person

 


Todd can receive input (from another person) even though they don’t use words.

input can be nonverbal from person

 


Todd can receive input when he reads words on a sign.

input can be from words

 


Todd can receive input even when a sign displays no words.

input can be non verbal and not written

 


Todd can receive small amounts of input. (i.e. one word or one phrase)

input has quantitative properties

 


Todd can receive large amounts of input. (i.e. a two-hour academic lecture)

there can be little input or lots of input

 


One form of input can affect Todd’s ability or willingness to respond to another form of input.

Todd input


Input, that Todd receives, can cause him to feel happy.

image

 


Input, that Todd receives, can cause Todd to feel sad.

input can make you sad

 


Todd can have an experience of understanding the input he receives. (In other words, the input can be comprehensible.)

input can be comprehensible

 


Todd can have an experience of not understanding the input he receives.  (In other words, the input can be incomprehensible.)

input can be incomprehensible

 


When the input Todd receives is his native language (L1), it is almost always comprehensible. (Like when he hears his friend say, “I like your shirt.”)

input in your native language can be comprehensible

 


On occasion, Todd may experience instances when his native language (L1) is incomprehensible. (Like when his calculus-nerd-friend states the Quotient Rule:

“y prime equals the denominator times the derivative of the numerator minus the numerator times the derivative of the denominator, all over the denominator squared.”)

input in your native language can be incomprehensible

 


A language that Todd has never heard before (L2) will generally be incomprehensible to him.

input in a language other than your native language can be incomprehensible

 


There can be instances when the teeniest part of the language that Todd has never heard before (L2) becomes meaningful.  (Like when Todd sneezes and a native L2 speaker immediately says, “Bless you,” in L2.  Both Todd and the native L2 speaker smile at each other because they each experienced a moment where the L2 was incomprehensible, however there was available extralinguistic input that made the interaction meaningful.)

input in a language other than your native language can be incomprehensible

 


A foreign language teacher’s goal is to enable Todd to meaningfully enter an L2-world.

the goal of fascilitating language acquisition

The conversation is just beginning.

Over the next several weeks, the posts on Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language will delineate the massive implications that these simple sketches have had on my foreign language teaching practice.

Todd will help me discuss my developing (and non-research-based) thoughts on…:

  • …the nature of input and comprehensible input.
  • …different forms of input and comprehensible input.
  • …a qualitative analysis of the various forms of comprehensible input and their usefulness in facilitating foreign language acquisition.
  • …making input comprehensible.
  • …how making input comprehensible and meaningful (to foreign language students) can cause language acquisition “magic” to occur.
  • …obstacles to making input comprehensible in a classroom full of students.
  • …strategies for overcoming the making-input-comprehensible-obstacles that exist in a foreign language classroom.
  • …a comprehensive rubric for assessing the effectiveness of a foreign language teacher.

STAY TUNED!

 See what others are saying about Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language.

Señor Howard

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com/blog – @HolaSrHoward

Caleb Howard – www.SoMuchHope.com – @calhwrd

Your voice is valuable! Share your target language teaching experiences!

Leave comments below or add to the conversation on twitter by using #TL90plus (for staying in the target language” comments) and/or #langchat (for general language teaching comments).

Video Recording – Comprehensible L2 Immersion Environment

This post contains a video recording of Sr. Howard creating a comprehensible L2 immersion environment.

I was wearing blue hair.

Señor Howard

I had just finished running through a crowd of 600 students spraying them with “silly string.”

silly string

I’m “Thing 5” (in this picture I’m chasing Thing 2 and I’m wearing the blue long-sleeve shirt underneath my costume).

It was Read Across America Day.  We had reached the end of a day FULL of Dr. Seuss activities.  100 first graders were sitting in the library watching a Cat In The Hat video; waiting for their classroom teachers to come and get them packed up to go home.

The teacher sitting next to me (who was also in costume) said, “Sr. Howard, the cartoon is almost done and we still have 10 minutes before their teachers come!”  So I got a box of Guatemalan kickballs and got in front of the students to occupy them until it was time for dismissal.

Watch the video of an L2 immersion environment (that’s RICH with instances of PAIRING) by clicking here.

This video is/was…:

  • …NOT planned.
  • …NOT meant to be a model lesson for how to teach in the target language.
  • …NOT a recording of an activity that the students had ever seen before in class.
  • …NOT suggesting that a teacher needs to wear blue hair in order to secure the attention of students.

The reason I’m posting this video

…is to help foreign language teachers make a philosophical distinction between an L2 immersion environment and an L2 immersion environment that’s RICH with instances of PAIRING.

It’s one thing to teach in the target language.  It’s another thing to teach in the target language in such a way that almost every student understands pretty much everything you’re saying.

If you want to teach effectively in the target language, you must make sure that your students understand pretty much everything you’re saying even though you are using a language with which they are unfamiliar.

In this video foreign language teachers will see that, even though the students (generally) don’t understand my language,:

  • students do understand what I’m saying and what I want them to do.
  • students are being exposed to the target language in meaningful ways.
  • students have repeated opportunities to use meaningful bits of the target language.  (Notice students are being exposed to subject pronouns, subjunctive conjugations, numbers, commands…etc.)
  • nearly all of the 100 1st graders are on-task and engaged.  (Side note: not bad, huh!? …especially considering that it was the end of the school day on Friday after a day FULL of Dr. Seuss activities on Read Across America day.)

Click here to watch the video.

 See what others are saying about Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language.

Señor Howard

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com/blog – @HolaSrHoward

Caleb Howard – www.SoMuchHope.com – @calhwrd

Your voice is valuable! Share your target language teaching experiences!

Leave comments below or add to the conversation on twitter by using #TL90plus (for staying in the target language” comments) and/or #langchat (for general language teaching comments).